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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 10/24/12

Guests: Diana DeGette, Nancy Keenan

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thank you very much. And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. Last night on this show, I was talking about the state of Ohio during a segment in which I was also talking about the state of Iowa and my brain somehow combined them and I ended up christening a new place in America called Ohiowa. And all day long, I have been doing that now. And I`m worried I may have accidentally rewired my brain, so that Ohiowa is the only thing I can say whenever I try to say either Ohio or Iowa. I now have a whole set of new words I have to say very slowly -- in this case, to avoid saying, accidentally, Ohiowa. Vice President Joe Biden has the same kind of problem today on the campaign trail. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ladies and gentlemen, this is a guy who`s running all the ads here in Iowa, saying that he`s going to get tough on China. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Yes, except Joe Biden was not "here in Iowa," he was here in Ohio when he said that. See, if we could just call it Ohiowa, it would be so much easier for everybody at this point in the campaign. At this point in the campaign, we are essentially focused on a map of the country that doesn`t look like this, it looks like this. This is the actually country that gets to elect the president of the United States. The combined population of this country is roughly 21 percent of the total population of the United States, but that conglomeration of states is who gets to pick our next president. Which means the equivalent of a country the size of France is deciding who the president is of a country the size of us. That little France-sized country gets tons and tons of attention now, to the point where even smallish population centers within this tiny bulbous of states get lavish attention from the candidates. They even end up being the subjects of the candidates` flattering word play. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BIDEN: As I was coming in, I got to meet the principal and the superintendent and I was saying, I stopped on the way down at a diner, had some breakfast, and someone said to me, Ohioan said, where you coming from? And I said, Dayton. They said, where you going? I said, Marion. He said, I read in the paper, you said you love Ohio. He said, that must be true, you`ve gone from Dayton, Ohio, to Marion, Ohio. I said, I never thought of it that way, I didn`t think I was marrying y`all, but it`s great to be here. It`s great to be here. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: You`re either the kind of the person who loves those jokes, or you`re the kind of person who groans when you hear those jokes. But if you give it another 12 hours, we are going to be at the knock- knock joke part of the campaign. This is just where we`re at how. Don`t worry, it doesn`t last long. The vice president was in -- Vice President Biden today was in the Ohio part of Ohiowa. President Obama today was in the Iowa part of Ohiowa. At least President Obama was there at the very start of what turned out to be a very busy presidential day. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is the first stop on our 48-hour fly-around campaign marathon extravaganza. We`re going to pull an all-nighter. No sleep. We`re starting here in Iowa, we`re going to Colorado. Then we`re going to go to Nevada. Then we`re going to Florida, Virginia, Ohio. I am going to stop in Chicago to vote. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: When I first saw the transcript of those remarks from the president today, I thought he was sketching out his itinerary from now until Election Day. But that is what his itinerary is between now and tomorrow. The president is voting in Illinois tomorrow. So the Iowa, Colorado, California, Nevada, Florida, Virginia, and then Illinois trip that the president is on right now is a 48-hour trip. It does not even get him until the end of the week. On the other side of the aisle, Mitt Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, are taking it much slower than the Democrats at this point. Mr. Romney had one event this afternoon in Nevada. He has another event right now in Iowa. And that`s it for the whole day. Paul Ryan gave a speech in Ohio today, and that one event was it for him. Presumably, they are pacing themselves for something that comes later. In terms of the state of the race, both campaigns are trying to spin reporters now into saying that they are ahead. But if you ignore the spin, if you ignore what the campaigns are saying and you just look at the polls, the best that anybody can say about the race right now is that it is a tie, at least nationally. Do you want me to prove it? These are all of the tracking polls that came out today. All right? Gallup says that Romney is up by three. "Investors Business Daily" says, no, no, no, it`s Obama who`s up by three. OK, Rand says it`s Obama who`s up by four. Oh, yes? Well, Rasmussen says it`s Romney who`s up by four. "Reuters" say it`s Romney who`s up by one. UPI says, no, no, no, it`s Obama who`s up by two. And PPP just cuts right to the chase and say, no, it`s a tie. And presumably they all mutter and admit, OK, yes, it`s a tie. It is a tie. It is a tie right now. But running for president is not a national race. It is not this country who gets to decide who the next president is. It is this country. It is this tiny conglomeration of relatively sparsely populated state. Nationally, it looks like a tie. And the battleground states are all still being called battleground states, because it is very close in those states. But we are now getting close enough to Election Day where we not only have polling about who people say they are going to vote for. We now have polling on who people say they did vote for. Like this current poll from "Reuters" which asks people who have already voted, who they cast their vote for. "Reuters" found that among registered voters, 17 percent of people say they have already cast their vote. And among those people who say they`ve already cast their vote, President Obama leads by 11 points. This is what early voting looks like in Indianapolis these days. These pictures were sent to us by the county clerk`s office in Marion County, Indiana, in Indianapolis. We`ve been getting pictures of our blog from all sorts of people around the country of what early voting looks like where you live, which is really cool. Please keep sending us stuff at In, the crowds have apparently been so big this year that the county clerk says that early voting is up 49 percent over this same time frame in the last presidential election year. They`re up 49 percent in early voting over `08, in Indianapolis. Wow. They are doing everything they can to deal with the crowds in that city. They`ve expanded early voting hours there, so people can vote there, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., seven days a week. Early voting in Indianapolis goes right up to noon on the day before Election Day. And that popularity of early voting in the state of Indiana has to be driving one particular U.S. Senate candidate quite nuts at the moment. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RICHARD MOURDOCK (R), INDIANA SENATE CANDIDATE: I believe that life begins at conception. The only exception I have for -- to have an abortion, is in that case of the life of the mother. I just -- I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize, life is that gift from God. And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Generally speaking, it`s never a great idea to opine right into a microphone about what you think God`s will has to do with a woman`s rape, and her getting pregnant because of that rape. That is, generally speaking, never a good thing. But when you say that at a time when people can hear that you said that, and then as soon as they heard that you said that, they can then immediately get up from their chair and go outside and go in their car and go drive to the county clerk`s office to vote against you for U.S. Senate, right that minute, as soon as they heard it, well, that is worse than if you just have to count on people hopefully not remembering that you said that thing a couple of Tuesdays down the line from then. The popularity of early voting in Indiana right now has to be sort of a heartache for this guy, Richard Mourdock. Indiana Republican U.S. Senate Candidate Richard Mourdock has proven to be his own October surprise in his race against Democrat Joe Donnelly. Mr. Mourdock got to be the Republican candidate in that Senate race when he ousted long-time and widely respected conservative Republican Senator Richard Lugar, with the help of the Tea Party earlier this year. Mr. Mourdock defined Richard Lugar as just too reasonable to continue to represent Indiana Republicans. And now, with people already able to vote in Indianapolis, anytime, all I do long, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., seven days a week at the county clerk`s office, now the Republican Party is reaping the consequences of choosing this guy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, POLITICAL AD) MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: This fall, I`m supporting Richard Mourdock for Senate. MOURDOCK: Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen. We need some zealots in the Republican Party. ROMNEY: I hope you`ll join me in supporting Richard Mourdock. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That`s part of an ad that the Democratic-leaning super PAC, the American Bridge PAC cut for the Indiana Senate race after Richard Mourdock made his comments in that debate yesterday about God`s will and rape and why he thinks the government should force a rape victim, against her will, to give birth to the rapist`s child. After making those comments in last night`s debate, Mr. Mourdock held a follow-up press conference today, to assert that he was woefully misunderstood. He said he did not mean to assert that the fact that you were raped was God`s will, he meant to assert that the fact that you got pregnant in that rape, that was God`s will. And because of that distinction, yes, he does believe that the government should force you, against your will, to carry that child to term, even if rape is the way that you got pregnant. The only Senate race in the country in which Mitt Romney has done a television ad endorsement for the Republican Senate candidate, the only one in the country, is this ad that he did for Richard Mourdock. It started airing in Indiana this week. What is incredible in national news now, now that Richard Mourdock has made these comments about God`s will and your rape, the Romney campaign has came out and said that Mr. Romney disagrees with Mr. Mourdock`s rape comments, but the Romney campaign does not want this ad to be taken down and they do not rescind their endorsement -- which means that it is not just Richard Mourdock anymore who has to worry about people being able to vote right now with those words about God and your rape ringing in their ears. The Democratic Party is making sure that that is not just a Richard Mourdock problem, the Democratic Party is doing their best to make it a Mitt Romney problem and a broadly a Republican Party problem. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, POLITICAL AD) ROMNEY: This fall, I`m supporting Richard Mourdock for Senate. MOURDOCK: Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen. ROMNEY: This is a man who I want to see in Washington, to make sure that we cannot just talk about changing things, but actually have the votes to get things changed. MOURDOCK: Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that god intended to happen. ROMNEY: We`ve got to get this guy elected in the U.S. Senate. MOURDOCK: It is something that God intended to happen. ROMNEY: There`s so much at stake. I hope you`ll join me in supporting Richard Mourdock for U.S. Senate. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That`s from the Democratic Party. President Obama`s campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki added fuel to the fire when she was asked about Richard Mourdock`s comments today onboard Air Force One. She told reporters, quote, "The president felt those comments were outrageous and demeaning to women. This is an issue where Mitt Romney is starring in an ad for this senator, and it is perplexing that he would not demand to have that ad taken down." Of course, looking at this from the other side, it would be very awkward if Mr. Romney did demand to have that ad taken down, since the policy stance on this issue that Mr. Mourdock has is the exact same policy stance held by the man Mr. Romney chose as his vice presidential running mate, Paul Ryan. And it is moments like these, it is days like this on the campaign trail when it is never more clear that this is not the next -- this is not the next national election after 2008. This is the next national election after 2010, which is the election where the Republican Party not only did great -- importantly, in terms of understanding Republican Party politics, they ran five different candidates for the United States Senate that year, who blew through what was previously, even the anti-abortion movement`s rough consensus, that even if you did want to make abortion a criminal offense in America, you would at least not force that government decision on women who got pregnant through rape or through incest. It was 2010, with the Tea Party ascendants, and the Beltway media busy talking about how much they were for small government, inexplicably, despite all evidence to the contrary, it was 2010 election when the Republican party ran five U.S. Senate nominees who did want to push rape victims and incest victims to carry those pregnancies to term against their will because the government was going to force them too. And it is because of that 2010 election, when at the state level Republican legislators got so emboldened on the issue of abortion, that the number of new state restrictions on abortion went from this to this. That is what Republican governance has been like, since the watershed 2010 midterm election. That is how it is even possible, that is how it became possible for a guy with politics as out there as Richard Mourdock on this subject to be running for federal office. And Richard Mourdock, now in the new Republican Party, is not alone. In 2010, it was five Republican Senate candidates who wanted to force rape and incest victims to carry those pregnancies to term against their will, because the government was going to force them to do it. This year, it`s even more than that. It`s Richard Mourdock in Indiana, Rick Berg in North Dakota. It`s Michael Baumgartner in Washington state. It`s Pete Hoekstra in Michigan. It`s Tom Smith in Pennsylvania. It`s Todd Akin in Missouri. It`s Josh Mandel in Ohio. Seven senate candidates in these high-profile states hold that same position. Seven. Here`s how Josh Mandel of Ohio reacted today when he was confronted with Richard Mourdock`s feelings about God`s will and rape victims. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said that, I think, even when life begins in the horrible situation of rape, that this is something that God intended. Is that something that you would denounce or -- JOSH MANDEL (R), OHIO SENATE CANDIDATE: I think I would want to see his comments -- is there a video of it? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was in a debate last night. MANDEL: I think -- I think I would want to see the video or see the debate before commenting on that. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it`s true that you do not have an exception when it comes to abortion? You`re pro-life in all cases, even -- MANDEL: I think it`s important to protect the life of the mother and, you know, I`m proud to be pro-life. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even in the possibility of rape? That`s true? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: He wants to make sure that`s not transcribed. Just vigorous nodding. It is because of what happened to the Republican Party in the Tea Party era, which the Beltway still talks about as a small government era, which is amazing to me, it is because of what happened to the Republican Party in the Tea Party era since those 2010 elections that what previously would have been seen as disqualifying extremism on the issue of abortion is now normal in Republican Party politics. The Republican Party has made an abrupt right turn on this subject, just in the past couple of years. And that is how Mitt Romney was able to choose for his vice presidential running mate, someone with the exact same position on rape and abortion as these guys, Todd Akin, and Richard Mourdock. It is an underappreciated thing in our politics, just how much and how fast the Republican Party has gone hard, hard right on abortion, since just that last midterm election. And so, everyone seems surprised that a guy like Richard Mourdock or Todd Akin, with views like this, got this far. But this is the new normal inside the Republican Party. And those guys do have the same view as Paul Ryan. It`s not the new normal for the country. The country has not changed to accept this view, but Republican politicians have, fast, and almost uniformly, and right up to the level of their vice presidential nominee. And so, yes, comments like these may, as we speak, be driving people to the polls in Indianapolis, but they are not driving the Republican presidential ticket to withdraw their endorsement or take down their ad supporting this guy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MOURDOCK: I believe that life begins at conception. The only exception I have for -- to have an abortion, is in that case of the life of the mother. I just -- I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize, life is that gift from God. And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: But, again, later he clarified, that God didn`t intend for you to be raped, God arrived, I guess, once the rape was underway and then decided that you should get pregnant from it. If you think the Democrats are going to be all over this, the Democrats are all over this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. DIANA DEGETTE (D), COLORADO: Women are going to make the difference in this election. Mitt Romney actively supports an Indiana Senate candidate who just yesterday said, and I quote, "When a pregnancy results from rape, it is what God intended to happen." Trust me -- we will go backward with Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. These two guys are pushing policies better suited for the 1950s than for the 21st century. We may -- listen, we might like watching "Mad Men" on TV, but we certainly do not want to live in it. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was Congresswoman Diana DeGette of Colorado, introducing President Obama at a rally earlier today in Denver. She joins us next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DEGETTE: Mitt Romney actively supports an Indiana Senate candidate who just yesterday said, and I quote, "When a pregnancy results from rape, it is what God intended to happen." Trust me -- we will go backward with Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. These two guys are pushing policies better suited for the 1950s than for the 21st century. We may -- listen, we might like watching "Mad Men" on TV, but we certainly do not want to live in it. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That`s Congresswoman Diana DeGette of Colorado introducing the president at a rally earlier today in her home state. Congresswoman DeGette is also the co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus. Congresswoman Diana DeGette, thank you very much for being here. It`s nice to have you here. DEGETTE: Hi, Rachel. It`s good to be with you. MADDOW: So, seeing you speak at that rally today, I wanted to ask you why you see it as an issue of national importance that Mitt Romney is not rescinding his support for Richard Mourdock after Richard Mourdock made those comments about rape and God intending for a woman to become pregnant during a rape. DEGETTE: Well, what really strikes me is what you had said, which is the Republican Party has moved so far to the right, now they`re saying that all abortions should be criminal offenses, except for maybe the life of the mother. That is really an extreme position. Mitt Romney, somehow, in the last couple of days, has been trying to say, no, no, I`m more moderate than that -- because he realizes there`s a gender gap. But he will not rescind his endorsement of this obviously far right candidate. And I think that that says that Mitt Romney`s trying to have it both ways. He`s trying to say to the American public, oh, no, I favor these exceptions, but then he`s endorsing somebody who says it`s God`s will if a rape victim gets pregnant. MADDOW: He also chose a vice presidential nominee, who does not believe that rape victims should be accepted from a national criminal ban on abortion. Paul Ryan holds the same policy views as not only Richard Mourdock, but also Todd Akin. I wonder just what your thoughts are on why Paul Ryan`s views on choice, specifically, haven`t become more of a lightning rod in this election. Certainly, the Democratic Party has been willing to talk about extremism on abortion in the Republican Party and Mr. Romney`s own views, but Paul Ryan hasn`t had a lot of attention for this. DEGETTE: Well, Paul Ryan voted over and over and over again to restrict a woman`s right to choose. He supports this personhood amendment. And by the way, Mitt Romney supports the personhood amendment too. What the personhood amendment would say is that when a sperm and an egg meet, that`s a person, just like us. And it would outlaw virtually all abortions. It would outlaw many common forms of birth control, like birth control pills and IUDs. And it would outlaw in vitro fertilization and stem cell research. And I -- you know, I`ve been saying this all along, that is a really extreme position and it`s not just Paul Ryan that has that position, it`s Mitt Romney that has that position. And Mitt Romney has repeated that over and over and over again. So I think both of their positions on this issue of abortion are way far to the right, certainly farther to the right than Americans believe. The vast majority of Americans believe that abortion should be safe and legal and rare. The exceptions we`re talking about are the traditional exceptions we`ve had for public funding for abortion. So these positions are way beyond the mainstream. MADDOW: We have seen this historic increase in state level abortion restrictions since the Republicans picked up so many seats in the state in the 2010 midterms. But from your perspective, in Congress, chairing the Pro-Choice Caucus, do you think the Republicans at the federal level are any more restrained or moderate on these issues than we`re seeing Republicans act in the states? DEGETTE: Oh, no, I think it`s worse. The very first vote they had was a vote to restrict a woman`s right to choose. They`ve had 30 votes in this Congress, since 2010, to restrict a woman`s right to birth control and family planning, to defund Planned Parenthood, to restrict international family planning, and they`ve had nine votes to, like the personhood amendment, to restrict a woman`s right to abortion. So I -- you know, I`ve been the co-chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus for some years now. And these efforts in the last two years really do seem to have escalated in Congress. That`s why, you know, when candidates say, well, I don`t really want to talk about abortion or birth control, it`s not a federal issue -- that`s just untrue, because the main goal of a lot of leaders in Congress is to restrict a woman`s right to make decisions over her own body. Not just with abortion, but also with family planning and birth control. MADDOW: Democratic Congresswoman Diana DeGette of Colorado -- thank you for your time tonight. Appreciate having you here. Thank you. DEGETTE: It`s great. Good to be with you, Rachel. MADDOW: When we talk about this stuff at the national level, a lot of the discussion, especially in the Beltway media, is that Democrats have decided to talk about this abortion issue this year. Democrats keep pushing this reproductive choice issue. It`s not like Democrats made it up out of whole cloth. The Republican Party really has been quite ahistorically radical on this issue, in the past two years. And they picked quite an amazingly radical ticket on this shall for their presidential race. Republicans did it, not the Democrats. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The universe of possible outcomes on Election Day, on November 6th, is getting smaller and smaller. And with each new day of polling, one very strange potential outcome for November 6th is looking more and more like it could be possible. It involves Joe Biden, in a way that you would not expect. It involves a part of the Constitution you would not expect. But we are at the point now where we have to face up to the fact that this strange outcome might really be possible. I will explain. That`s coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: At this point, the election looks like it could be closer than the head and the tail on a very old, worn-down dime. Last time we did this as a country in 2008, the election was not close. Barack Obama won handedly. He won by a lot and he basically won everywhere it`s conceivable a Democrat might win. He won Indiana, which no Democrat had won in my lifetime. Barack Obama surged into office on just a tide of brilliant blue. So how come the map from that election looks so red? From Houston, Texas, to Bismarck, North Dakota, over to Sandpoint, Idaho, all the way back to St. Marys, Georgia, when the Democrats won and won big, the map still looks quite red. Why is that? It`s because the giant middle of our giant country are filled with giant states that are not all that densely filled with people. No offense to Wyoming, and Montana, and Nebraska, but relatively speaking, you have a lot of land with not many people on that land. And that`s a feature, not a bug, right? Your emptiness makes you beautiful and great. But we don`t vote by acreage in this country, we vote by human. So, a big giant stake like Wyoming gets just three votes in the Electoral College, Montana gets three votes, Nebraska, a measly five votes. In electoral politics, one relatively crowded Indiana is worth as much as relatively Wyoming, Montana, and Nebraska all combined. But if you look a little bit closer at the sea of red from the 2008 election, if you look at the results map from when President Obama won last time, and you`ll notice that in the big sea of red in the middle of the country, there was one blue dot inside Nebraska. Barack Obama won that little blue dot. Nebraska is one of only two states in the country that don`t just give all their electoral votes on a statewide basis. They divide their votes by congressional district. And in 2008, in the middle of what we think of as big, empty, red state Nebraska, it was Barack Obama who specifically won Nebraska`s second congressional district. So he won that single electoral vote -- basically, Omaha, Nebraska, was a blue dot. Because President Obama won an overwhelming victory in 2008, because he beat John McCain so badly, that little blue dot in big Nebraska ended up just being sort of interesting trivia about the election. That one electoral vote was not decisive, right? But check this out. The other state besides Nebraska that does not just award its electoral votes as a whole state, the other state that splits them up by district is the state of Maine. And Maine has gone all blue in the last five presidential elections. But this year, a pro-Mitt Romney super PAC is buying a nice chunk of airtime in Maine for pro-Mitt Romney ads, including, in the one congressional district in the state, where Mitt Romney might, maybe, conceivably have a chance? And yes, maybe the Romney super PAC is really buying ads in Maine just so they`ll get seen next door in swing state, New Hampshire, but maybe the race is so close that a single red dot in Maine could make a difference for Mitt Romney. Maybe this election will be historically close, one electoral vote close, epically close -- so close that we have to dive way down into the Nebraska and Maine congressional district maps, so close that we have to memorize the innards and the sub-innards of the Twelfth Amendment of the Constitution in order to figure out who wins. The polls are close enough that campaigning for individual electoral votes is now happening. And there`s a lot of money behind it. And the surprising news of what happens if there is a tie is all of a sudden very relevant to those of us who are paying close attention to this election. The news about the potential tie is coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: OK. This is the United States Supreme Court. The reason states are not allowed to ban abortion right now and the federal government is not allowed to ban abortion right now is because of a 1973 Supreme Court ruling called Roe versus Wade. Right now, the ideological balance of the court is such that if an outright challenge to Roe versus Wade were heard in this court, the vote, we think, would likely be a 5-4 decision to keep Roe versus Wade, to protect a woman`s right to have an abortion. If the makeup of the court changes by one justice, though, it would be about five seconds before conservatives got a case challenging Roe into the court, once they were sure that the ruling would be 4-5 instead of 5-4. With four Supreme Court justices over the age of 70, whoever becomes president is likely to be able to appoint at least one new Supreme Court justice. And if it is a Republican president, he will appoint nominees who will definitely vote to overturn Roe versus Wade. And abortion will then, immediately become a criminal act at the state level and every state that`s willing to do that. And we know Republicans will immediately try to ban it federally as well. They have been trying that for a very along time, including multiple times in this Congress. What the Republican Party is fighting about now is not whether the government should be able to force women to bear children against their will. They totally agree that that is definitely what should happen. All they`re fighting about now is the edges, right? All they`re fighting about now is whether you should be able to get an exception from the government, forcing you to bear a child against your will, if you need that exception to save your life, if you need that exception to protect your health, if you need that exception because the way you got pregnant was through rape or was through incest. Those are the issues they are fighting about. They are beyond fighting about whether women are allowed to make this decision. It is clear to them, you are not. Within the Republican ticket, the argument is actually between the presidential nominee and the vice presidential nominee. Mitt Romney says if you are raped, he will take pity and the government won`t force you to take that pregnancy to term, like they will to everybody else. But Paul Ryan does not take pity. Rape does not exempt you as far as Paul Ryan is concerned. And the politics inside the Republican Party on this are actually swinging in Paul Ryan`s direction, not in Mitt Romney`s direction. It`s becoming increasingly common among Republican politicians with federal aspirations to try to explain away why rape is really nothing special, and certainly nothing that should afford you any special protection from a government that`s going to assert this right to make this particular decision for you against your will. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) RADIO HOST: What do you say, then, to a young girl, let me -- I`m going to place it as he said it, when a young girl is raped by her father, let`s say, and she is pregnant. I mean, how do you explain this to her in terms of wanting her to go through the process of having the baby? SHARRON ANGLE (R-NV), 2010 SENATE CANDIDATE: I think that two wrongs don`t make a right. And I have been in the situation of counseling young girls, not 13, but 15, who have had very at-risk, difficult pregnancies, and my counsel was to lack for some alternatives, which they did. And they found that they had made what was really a lemon situation into lemonade. KEN BUCK (R-CO), 2010 SENATE CANDIDATE: I am pro-life, and I will answer the next question. I don`t believe in the exceptions of rape or incest. REPORTER: How would you tell a daughter or a granddaughter who, God forbid, would be the victim of a rape, to keep the child against her own will? Is that -- is that something that you would -- do you have a way to explain that? TOM SMITH (R-PA), 2012 SENATE CANDIDATE: I lived something similar to that with my own family. She chose life, and I commend her for that. She knew my views. But, fortunately for me, I didn`t have to -- she chose the way I thought. Now, don`t get me wrong. It wasn`t rape. REPORTER: Similar how? SMITH: Having a baby out of wedlock. REPORTER: That`s similar to rape? SMITH: No, no, no. But -- well, put yourself in a father`s position, yes. I mean, it is similar. But, back to the original, I`m pro-life, period. REPORTER: I think our viewers would love to know exactly where you stand, specifically, you`re pro-life, Catholic. REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Oh, yes. REPORTER: But specifically where you stand when it comes to rape and when it comes to the issue of, should it be legal for a woman to be able to get an abortion if she -- RYAN: Well, so, I`m very proud of my pro-life record. And I`ve always adopted the idea, the position that the method of conception doesn`t change the definition of life. REP. TODD AKIN (R), MISSOURI: If it`s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: That has become the new hard-line position, or the new right- word position in the Republican Party on abortion rights. In Paul Ryan`s words, rape is just the method of conception. It doesn`t make any difference to him. But imagine that that is the -- that it is the Republican moderate position, the moderate position in the Republican Party on abortion rights that wins out, OK? So it`s not the Paul Ryan position that wins out, but it`s the Mitt Romney position. So imagine this. We get Mitt Romney elected president. A Supreme Court justice or two retires or passes away, President Romney gets one or two new justices approved and installed on the court, conservatives rush a case to the court to overturn Roe versus Wade. Roe versus Wade is overturned, thanks to Mitt Romney`s new Supreme Court, states around the country ban abortion, and federally, Republicans in Congress are able to pass legislation and send it to now President Romney to federally ban abortion, a bill which he says he would be delighted to sign. All right? But we`re not imagining a totally dystopian future. We imagine them taking what Republicans now considered to be the Mitt Romney moderate stance on this issue, in that they will allow victims of rape and incest special protection from the new government control over all American women`s pregnancies. So, here`s a question that no one has yet asked Mitt Romney about his plan for abortion policy. This is a real practical policy question based on what he is planning to do. It`s not about the radical side. It`s about what he`s portraying as his moderate side. How`s that going to work? How are you going to decide who specifically is allowed access to abortion in America? You have to have been raped to qualify, right? So who adjudicates who has been raped? Do you take every woman`s word for it? What if the man who is the alleged rapist says, it wasn`t rape. Who do you take his word for it? Whose word counts? Do you wait until it`s adjudicated in court? What if there`s an appeal? How many weeks and months does that take, and how many weeks and months can go by when you can feasibly still get a abortion while waiting for that process? Who makes that final ruling? Is it a cop? Is it a judge? Is it a jury? Is it Mitt Romney? If it`s not the woman making the decision, who gets to make the decision? Mitt Romney has a very specific policy position on abortion rights and the Republican Party is now trying to portray it as the moderate policy, but nobody has asked him what that policy would actually look like in America. How it would work in the real world. Joining us tonight for the interview tonight is the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, Nancy Keenan. Nancy, it`s good to have here. NANCY KEENAN, NARAL PRO-CHOICE AMERICA: Great to be back. MADDOW: Do you know the answer as to how it would be implemented if there was a federal ban on abortion like this? KEENAN: Well, I think that`s the million-dollar question and I don`t think there is an answer. What`s egregious here is that they believe that government should make this decision, and even in the cases of rape, there are some that they believe they have the answer and that the government should make the decision. They also don`t trust women. They don`t trust us to make sure that the woman has said, I have been raped. They don`t trust women to make this decision. They don`t trust women to make sure that they can access their birth control and make those reproductive decisions. This is a group of people who ran on a smaller government, but wanted in our bedrooms and wanted in our medicine cabinets. And it is absolutely -- if this is the new normal, it should send a chill down the spine of American women and men in this country. MADDOW: What amazes me is that, is the change in what`s considered to be the middle on this position. I mean, the Republican Party right now is sort of in throes over Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, and I think Paul Ryan, saying what they have said about rape. Paul Ryan describing it as just another method of conception, as far as he`s concerned, he doesn`t care. Richard Mourdock describing it as God`s will, whether or not you get pregnant during a rape. Todd Akin saying it`s not possible to get pregnant during a rape. If you do, it means it`s not a real rape. The Republican Party is scandalized by that and has put forward Mitt Romney as the moderate alternative to that. Have the Democrats been ineffective as highlighting Mitt Romney as being pretty far out there as compared to even the rest of what used to be considered normal? KEENAN: No. I think we`ve got to continue in the next 13 days talking about how anti-choice Mitt Romney is. How, as you said, if he`s elected president, we have to worry greatly about the Supreme Court. But he`s also not withdrawing his support of these people like a Mourdock. MADDOW: Right. KEENAN: Now, those guys get elected to the United States Senate, then anything that has all this craziness that came out of the House could pass the United States Senate, if they take over, in control of the senate. So it is just unconscionable that Mitt Romney can kind of a wink and a nod, oh, well, I don`t agree with him on that, but nonetheless I`m going to still support -- (CROSSTALK) MADDOW: Yes. KEENAN: Keep my ad up. That is -- the American public is not stupid, and I think they`re going to see through that and understand there`s only one person that supports a woman`s right to choose and that is President Barack Obama. And we`ve got our work to do these next 13 days. MADDOW: At the top of the show, we talked about how it is sort of the legacy of the 2010 elections that the Republican Party came up with a new normal that was far to the right of the old normal on this subject. Is there anything that either pro-choice Republicans, to the extent that there might be one still in the world, or Democrats who do support the women`s right to choose could move the center back to where it used to be, move the center back to the center? KEENAN: Well, look, I think things have changed. Who would ever thought that this would be a top issue to the presidential race. MADDOW: This and contraceptive. KEENAN: This and contraception. And so I think that -- you know, I have always said, and as a former candidate, I have always said choice is a winning issue, because women in this country so fundamentally believe this is about their life and their health. And so, when you talk to the women in this country, you can win on this issue, because after you talk about the economy and taxes and wars, there`s one basic fundamental value they come back to, and that is their own personal value around their freedom and privacy and able to access abortion care and they make the decision, not politicians. And so, yes. We have to talk about it. But I think, I have never in my lifetime seen a presidential ad that speaks specifically to protecting a woman`s right to abortion and this president has done that. MADDOW: Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America -- thank you for being here. KEENAN: Thanks for having me. MADDOW: We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: I`m standing up, so you mean something big is about to happen. All right. It`s a very close race. It`s a very, very close race. One of the consequences of it being so very close right now is that it is entirely possible that at the end of all this, the president of the United States is going to be John Boehner. I am not kidding. Here`s how this works. The process by which that could happen is not that hard to understand and it really could feasibly happen. OK, here it goes. This is the battleground map, right? The yellow states -- the states that are already colored red or blue, or colored in that way because it seems clear that that is the way that states are going to vote on Election Day, red for Republican, blue for Democrats. Let`s assume there are not going to be any big surprises there in the non-battleground states, and the states that are already filled red or blue will go the way we think they`re going to go. That brings us to just the battlegrounds. Those are the states in yellow. So, in this scenario, before we get to the battleground states, President Obama, just from adding up the blue states, has 237 electoral votes. And Mitt Romney, just from adding up the red state, has 191 electoral votes. That`s even before we get to the battleground states in yellow. You got to get to 270 to win, right? So, let`s say beyond the states he knows he`s going to win, President Obama picks up Ohio, all important Ohio. Let`s say he also wins New Hampshire, and let`s say he wins the great state of Wisconsin. But let`s say Mitt Romney wins all of the other battleground states on the map. This is not that hard to imagine in terms of the polling that`s really close, right? So, Romney would win Florida and North Carolina and Virginia and Colorado and Nevada and what I like to think of as the Iowa part of Ohiowa. So if that happens -- and that seems possible, right? If that happens on Election Day, totally feasible scenario, look at what the electoral count is. That is a tie, 269 to 269. Neither of them is president in this circumstance. So, how in this circumstance do we decide who wins the presidency? Jonathan Karl of ABC News spun this out the other day and print, we`ve been looking at it ever since. It is from here that we get to the potential presidency of one John Boehner. It is not an accident, right, what would happen in the case of a 269 to 269 Electoral College tie. This is not something we`d have to make it up on the spot. The Founders actually talked overtly about what would be the right thing to do in a circumstance like this. And it turns out what they thought was a very strange thing. So according to the Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution, if there is an Electoral College tie, it`s the House of Representatives who gets to choose who is the president. But, they do not vote on who`s going to be president the way they normally vote on things in the House. In that circumstance, when they`re making that specific decision, each state just gets one vote per state. So, no matter how many members of Congress there are from each state, no matter how big the state`s population, each state gets an equal vote, each state gets one vote. So in this scenario that got us to an electoral tie between President Obama and Mitt Romney, Mitt Romney actually wins more states, he wins 29 states to Obama`s 21 states. Which means that if the House of Representatives voted in keeping with the way they voted for president, the population on those states, Mitt Romney would be elected by the House of Representatives. I mean, that said, nobody can instruct the state congressional delegations exactly how to cast their ballots, there`s no provision about that, they get to decide on their own. You`d think they would vote the way their state voted, or maybe they`d vote in their own partisan interest and work out in their own little mini democracies or something. But if they did that, the way their states voted, this is who we would end up with. What if we ended up instead 25 states picking a President Romney and 25 states picking a President Obama. There is no tie breaker in that case. You know who becomes president in that circumstances? Not President Obama, not Mitt Romney, but this guy -- Speaker of the House John Boehner. That`s who becomes president in the event of a 25 state/25 state tie. It`s also very unlikely. What is more likely is even weirder than a President Boehner, though. The more likely outcome in our Electoral College tie that got us here is that there will be no tie in the House. Mitt Romney will be elected president in the House, but then what happens to the Senate -- what happens to the vice presidential tie, right? If there`s an electoral tie, it goes to the House of Representatives, we get President Romney and Vice President Paul Ryan not automatically. This is the amazing part and it`s on purpose. It`s not some vestigial thing that nobody thought of that came up by accident. The Founders came up with a plan for this. The vice presidency would be decided in the Senate after the presidency was decided in the House of Representatives. So it`s kind of nuts but look it how it works out. In the Senate, they would vote for a vice president in a straightforward way. One senator, one vote, 100 votes altogether. But we wouldn`t be talking about our current Senate, we`d be talking about the Senate that we will have after the election. If it`s a Republican majority in the Senate that`s elected in a couple of weeks, presumably that Republican majority would pick the Republican vice president to go with the Republican president. They`d pick Paul Ryan. If there is a Democratic majority elected this fall in the Senate, that Senate would presumably pick Joe Biden for vice president, right? If the Senate is tied at 50/50, in that case the sitting vice president is the tie breaking vote, meaning Joe Biden would likely vote to make Joe Biden vice president again. So then we would have, through a duly considered overt process dictated by the Constitution of the United States, President Mitt Romney and Vice President Joe Biden, together, at once. That is a totally feasible prospect as an outcome for this election. Isn`t this a great country? Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL". Have a great night. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END